" There is an Indian legend that at a certain time in the life of a young man he is given a dream in which he sees a mask, and when he awakens he must set to work carving a real mask in that dream image. This is the mask he must wear into battle in order to be victorious. It was as if Joe Buck had had such a dream, and his life was given over to the carving of the mask." – James Leo Herlihy, Midnight CowboyThese works are experiments in invoking Pareidolia—the phenomena in which we imagine faces in random arrangements of objects, forms, and patterns. You the viewer are creating what you desire to see in the arrangements I have created. Each assemblage at once forms and negates any actual image. Eyes, mouths, noses, beards, cheekbones, and other facial characteristics appear to emerge from the works. However none of them are anything more than an arrangement of various found objects. Who or what you see is up to you, not I.
" I have placed a mark of my own design, to take the space of nothing in factors of ten to the infinite." – Al Khwarizmi
These works were created to explore my fascination with the Islamic taboo against depicting images — particularly the human figure and most importantly the Prophet Mohammed himself – and its correlation with our societal prohibition against revealing the lack of any real value associated with our currency. The economy is just as vastly immaterial as any deity or prophet, yet we are constantly attempting to visualize it in the form of money. It is the face of terror that is at once real and a complete illusion.
As I worked on these pieces, the images, faces, characters, and all-to-human dramas that began to appear before me, became clear and connected. My personal debts to institutions such as Capital One, the IRS, and my self-sacrificing art dealer (which, are all fair debts, that I amassed in my attempts to live a survivable life of some sort), these debts, all seemingly never ending and ever increasing, have become the deities of my life. These are the faces I see when I close my eyes.
The unimaginable greenbacked Leviathan that was once Alexander Hamiliton, being held for ransom under the Pentagon, is the God, “In God We Trust”, the Ponzi scheme Shell Game called the Economy, All my debts, all of yours, They are the Mask of God, The Face Behind the White Burning Veil at Twilight, and simultaneously nothing but a pile of trash. You, the Eye of the Beholder, the Rooster Angel whose crest brushes the vault of heaven, see what you choose to see, holding a jewel in the place of a grain, and casting it out as garbage.
“Those who create images of life, would be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it would be said to them: Breathe soul into what you have created. When they fail they will be thrown into the abyss.” – Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith
Jason Robert Bell, 2011